Close family and friends gathered for a solemn moment to remember their friend, brother, father and grandson who was shot to death in August.
Eduardo Angelo de las Nieves was 31 when he escaped from the Honor Farm in French Camp, stole a vehicle, and led three agencies on a chase that ended in an Acampo intersection just off of Highway 99. He was shot by officers after police said he attempted to run over one of them.
Nieves was serving a sentence for car theft, but was scheduled for release on Dec. 30.
Twenty people made their way to the site of Nieves’ final moments where they lit candles and created a small memorial of flowers. A flagpole at the site bears a bullet hole from that day.
One group branched off to the opposite corner of the intersection, trying to understand the path Neives’ car took as he fled police.
The family shared memories of their brother and anger over how he died.
“I want people to know my brother is not a monster,” said Angelina Nieves Arther, Nieves’ older sister. She and her sister, Andrea Schilling, and their surviving brother, Eddie Nieves, organized the vigil in his memory, and to mark the location of the shooting with candles and flowers.
The siblings recalled memories of a childhood filled with summer vacations to amusement parks and singing in the church choir. As children, they played baseball and were always hanging out at Grandma’s house with the neighborhood kids.
“He was a special guy, not a bad guy. He loved us and we loved him, very much,” said an emotional Darlene Woodard, who adopted Nieves after serving as his foster parent for 10 years.
Heather Carroll, of Stockton, grew up next door to Nieves and his siblings.
“I remember Darlene would pack us all into her van and drive us somewhere, like Six Flags, and we’d pile out like it was a big clown car,” said Carroll.
Another time, Nieves was riding bikes with Carroll’s brother, Chris Carroll, when the spoke snapped on the front tire. With some wire and duct tape, Nieves put it back together. Then he spent the next weeks learning to do a wheelie so he would never be stuck again, remembered Carroll.
Several of those present struggled to reconcile their memories of Nieves with the reality of his death.
“His life took a wrong turn. He started using drugs, but we never excluded him from the house,” said Arther. “You get in with the wrong people and your life just changes.”
The pensive group circled close together to pray for Nieves’ memory and his children.
Nieves left behind two young daughters and one son. They are now being cared for by the family of his wife, Celeste Gibson, who passed away two years ago.
The investigation regarding the shooting is ongoing and conducted by several agencies.
The Department of Justice, the San Joaquin County’s District Attorney, Stockton Police, the California Highway Patrol and the sheriff’s department are all involved, according to CHP officer Angel Arcero.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at email@example.com.